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WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA BECOMES A DRUG

By Rob Jupp

The mortgage market is currently in three camps where social media is concerned. Those that never touch it and don’t understand why it is being used, those who dabble – they have an account and post the odd thing that is usually promotional about their business, and the final camp that are completely addicted and use the likes of Twitter almost compulsively, living their lives through it and spending disproportionate parts of their day on it.

I have to admit that I am, or I have been until recently, in the latter category. Don’t get me wrong, social media plays a very valuable role.

It can be a way of engaging with people you may otherwise never get in front of. For brokers it can enable them to answer questions on mortgages from complete strangers as searches can pick up questions that people from all walks of life have posed and enable you to engage with them. It also allows you to have a conversation with people in the way they are most comfortable with as not everyone chooses to read the same magazines or transact all business through email. All of that makes it a vital work tool.

It is also a way of having conversations online in a way that tries to mimic actual social engagement. The only difference is that there can be hundreds if not thousands of people listening in on that conversation – this can be both a positive and a negative. It is a positive way of getting in front of lots of people with carefully crafted communications that are appropriate for the diverse audience; but it can be a negative if the communications become personal between one or two people and the person ‘forgets’ that there is a much wider audience than the one that is aimed at who are listening in.

Everything is useful when it is in proportion, but the most effective way to build and manage relationships is always going to be either face to face or over the phone. Email, texts and social media are a good way to then back up these solid relationships.

When you start looking for every message that anyone ever sends it can become an addiction as messages come in constantly. For those of us obsessed with it, it can start taking over your lives, getting to a point where you are living your whole life out on social media and are checking it far too frequently to make sure that you haven’t missed something. It is when it gets out of balance like this that I think it needs to be reined in. As it starts to prevent people from actually talking to one another.

It is important that our key engagement is always on a personal level wherever possible. Social media has a very valuable role to play but when you find that you don’t have time to talk to your kids or the people at work because you are frightened that you’ve missed a few tweets, it’s time to reign it in, realise that you are becoming addicted, and either unsubscribe or turn your device off.